wikiHow to Deep Fry a Turkey

This delicious, alternative way to cook a turkey is an extremely popular dish in the United States, particularly around the Thanksgiving period. Because deep frying a turkey is less time-consuming than using an oven or rotisserie grill, many are choosing to spend less time fretting over the turkey and more time celebrating with friends and family, while still enjoying a delicious turkey dinner.


  • < 16 Lb turkey (see Tips)
    • patted dry, inside and out
    • wire or plastic truss that holds the legs in place removed
  • 2 Tbsp seasoning
  • Oil with high smoke point (peanut, refined canola, corn oil or sunflower)


  1. Image titled Deep Fry a Turkey Step 1 preview
    Season the turkey. Begin by sprinkling cayenne pepper over the top of the turkey and around the legs, rubbing it in as you go. Then turn it on its side, sprinkle more cayenne and rub it in. Completely turn the turkey over upside down before sprinkling and rubbing the underside. Continue until the entire body has been well covered and rubbed.
    • There are many different ways to season the turkey, so feel free to look up recipes. Most of them involve rubbing the turkey with seasoning or injecting it with marinade.
    • Try to get the rub under the skin as the skin is often tossed on a big bird once it gets overcooked.
  2. Image titled Deep Fry a Turkey Step 2 preview
    Make the metal handle. This method is recommended if you do not have a deep frying basket. Place the turkey on its shoulders (where the head would be) and begin to spear the wire through it, just underneath the breast and by the wings. Carefully pull the wire through and loop the wire around about three times to make a metal handle. Twist the ends of the wire around your handle so there are no sharp ends.
    • It is very important to do a little test to make sure that your handle is totally secure when lifting up the turkey. Only when you are convinced that the handle is strong enough should you move onto the next step.
    • To get the oil to the hard to reach spots, make incision in the leg skin where it pulls against the body to allow the oil better access.
  3. Image titled Deep Fry a Turkey Step 3 preview
    Prepare the burner. The frying of the turkey must be done outside, in a dry and well ventilated area and not near anything flammable. Set the gas burner on a level surface because this is one of the safest options to ensure that the fryer doesn't tip over. Keep the propane tank as far away from the fryer as possible and make sure it is not on, under or near any flammable materials. When not set up properly, a deep fryer can explode.[1] Read the instructions that came with your fryer.
    • Never use the fryer in the garage or on the deck when oil is in the pot.
  4. Image titled Deep Fry a Turkey Step 4 preview
    Prepare the oil level. Fill the pot halfway with water. Then roughly half fill the bucket with water, which should represent the same weight as your turkey. Place the bucket into the pot to make sure the water does not go past the top of the bucket; it should be at least 5 or 6 inches (12.7 or 15.2 cm) below the rim. If it is too high, then discard some of the water. The water line will represent the quantity of oil you will need, so make a note of it. Remove the bucket and tip away the water from the pot.
    • Alternatively, you can put the turkey itself in the empty pot and add enough water to just cover (1-2 inches above) the turkey. Again, the level should be at least 5 or 6 inches (12.7 or 15.2 cm) below the rim. Take the turkey out and measure the depth of the water with a ruler. Dry the turkey thoroughly afterward.
  5. Image titled Deep Fry a Turkey Step 5 preview
    Dry the pot. It is extremely important to thoroughly wipe the pot dry with some kitchen roll. You must not leave any water in the pot as hot oil and water can be a very dangerous combination.
  6. Image titled Deep Fry a Turkey Step 6 preview
    Add the oil. Pour the oil into the pot to the level where the water was. You should have somewhere between 3–5 inches (7.6–12.7 cm) of oil in the pot. Light your gas burner and adjust to a high setting, then place the pot carefully down onto the burner plate. Place the thermometer into the oil and allow the oil to heat to a temperature of 350 °F (175 °C). The time it takes to heat to cooking temperatures varies.
    • You should monitor the temperature throughout the heating and cooking process. Depending on your burner and outside conditions, the oil can heat up to dangerous levels very quickly.
    • Put on a protective jacket/apron and gloves. You may also wish to put on safety goggles to keep oil from splashing in your eyes.
  7. Image titled Deep Fry a Turkey Step 7 preview
    Check the temperature. Once the oil has reached 350 °F (175 °C), you're ready to fry. Make sure you have on your protective gloves and jacket when handling the turkey or working around the hot oil. With the metal hook attached to the wire loop handle of your turkey, lower the turkey with extreme care into the hot oil. Even with the bird patted dry, there will be a violent reaction when it hits the hot oil. Do this very slowly and be aware of any hot splashing oil.
    • It is strongly recommended to turn off the burner while the turkey is being submerged, then to turn it back on once the turkey is in. Boiled over oil hitting the burner is the cause of most accidents.
    • For a large bird, use a pole of some sort like a hockey stick. Put it through the handle and have someone help lower the bird into the pot. This will help keep your distance from the oil as it reacts to the bird.
  8. 8
    Fry the turkey. Allow 3-4 minutes of cooking for every 500 grams (1lb). Monitor the temperature by leaving a candy thermometer in the oil (hung from a copper wire) as the turkey cooks. Never leave the hot oil unattended during the cooking process! When the bird is dropped and the fluids begin to cook out, the boiling off of these fluids tends to cool the oil, after which the oil temperature may tend to rise. Halfway through the cooking process, check to see how the turkey is doing by briefly lifting it out of the pot, again using the metal hook attached to the wire handle. Then lower it back into the pot for the rest of the cooking period.
    • Cooking time can vary based on factors such as outdoor temperature and the temperature of the bird.
    • If the oil begins to smoke at any time, lower the heat. Overheated oil can lead to combustion.
    • To control the temperature if it starts to rise, adjust the burner to turn down the heat.
  9. Image titled Deep Fry a Turkey Step 9 preview
    Finish the frying. Once the turkey begins to float to the top of the oil, allow it cook for an additional 15 minutes. Once cooked, carefully remove your turkey from the pot, give it a little shake to disperse the excess oil and transfer it back onto its platter. Check the internal temperature with the meat thermometer. The temperature should be at least 165 degrees F (75 degrees C), but preferably 170 degrees F (77 degrees C) in the breast and 180 degrees F (82 degrees C) in the thigh. Turn off the flame. Let the oil cool completely, making sure it's in a spot where nobody (especially kids and pets) will run into it. Remove the wire and serve.


  • A deep fryer can also be used for other poultry or seafood.
  • Immediately wash your hands, utensils, equipment and surfaces that have come in contact with raw turkey.
  • Try serving your turkey with some golden roasted potatoes and a choice of vegetables. You can find recipes for these right here on wikiHow.
  • This is best done with two people--one to watch the fryer and the other to engage in cooking.
  • Electric fryers are available. They can be used indoors but do not heat up as quickly. They do, however, contain a thermostat with a timer and a thermal safety shut-off.
  • To reuse the oil, let it cool then put it through a fine strainer. If breading, herbs, or spices were used, put it through a cheesecloth as well. Cover and refrigerate it. It can be stored and reused until deterioration begins.
  • Smaller turkeys (8-10 lbs) are more suitable for deep-frying because the longer cooking time of larger turkeys (over 15 lbs) can cause over-cooking of the skin (as well as increased difficulty and risk in submerging a large bird). If you do have a large turkey, it is recommended by the National Turkey Federation that you deep fry it in sections, with the legs/thighs first and the breast second.


  • Make sure other people, especially children and animals, are kept away from the cooking area at all times.
  • Be sure to turn off the flame while submerging the turkey.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby! Except for Christmas Tree fires, deep frying a turkey is the greatest cause of fires during the holidays.
  • If the turkey is not fully thawed, the ice can react with the hot oil to cause a boil-over and a flame hazard.
  • Do not leave the fryer unattended at any time.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 40 litre (70 pints) cooking pot
  • 1 temperature gauge
  • 1 gas burner and bottle of gas
  • Approx 25 liters (6.6 US gal) peanut/ vegetable oil
  • 1 metal handle or hook
  • 1 meter (3.3 ft) of wire for wrapping turkey
  • 1 pair protective gloves
  • 1 protective jacket or an apron over a long-sleeved shirt
  • 1 foam extinguisher (in case of an emergency)
  • 1 large clean bucket -roughly same size as turkey
  • kitchen roll/paper towel
  • 1 pair of pliers
  • 1 meat thermometer

Sources and Citations

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